Coastal Daytrips: Emerald Isle and Beaufort

3 03 2011

 

 

 

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20,000 people, 75 art and food vendors, and a Saint Patrick’s Day beer garden, combined with gorgeous springtime beach weather – doesn’t sound half bad.  Unfortunately, I’ll still be out of the country for Spring Break, so I’ll be living vicariously through the rest of you who are back in time for the Saint Patrick’s Day Festival at Emerald Isle on March 12th.

As far as coastal destinations go, Emerald Isle is a bit more on the family-friendly side, at least compared to Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Myrtle Beach to the south.  It suffices to say that Emerald Isle was my family’s favorite beach town for relaxing summer vacations when my siblings and I were between the ages of 3 and 12.  While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for an overnight, weekend, or week-long stay, it might just be perfect for a fun day trip (say, March 12?).

I haven’t been to the Saint Patrick’s Day Festival since middle school, but I would imagine that it is quite a different experience now that I am approaching adult age.  Most notably, the majority of us are now old enough to enjoy the beer garden (not that I still don’t love face painting and games).  I grew to love the atmosphere of beer gardens while studying abroad in Australia last year – they are relaxing and uplifting, allowing you to enjoy the company of your friends, while also meeting countless strangers as people filter between tables.  While there are, of course, plenty of opportunities for celebratory day drinking here at Duke, taking a good springtime drive to the east only adds to the experience.

Alternatively, another coastal town that begs for a quick visit is Beaufort, just 20 minutes or so away from Emerald Isle.  One of the oldest towns in North Carolina, Beaufort is home to the NC Maritime Museum, as well as the 18th century homes of sea captains and pirates (including Blackbeard).  You can also visit Cape Lookout Lighthouse or catch a glimpse of one of the last groups of wild horses in the US, located on Shackleford Banks.  A lot of students get the opportunity to live in Beaufort for an extended period of time while studying at the Duke Marine Lab, which is part of the Nicholas School.  A few summers ago, a good friend of mine participated in a summer program at the marine lab and invited me to drive out and visit, which provided a chance to explore the town all over again – definitely worth it.

I’ll be taking a week off from the blog while in Honduras, but look for a new post the following week –  Happy Spring Break!

 

The wrap-up:

  • Distance from Duke: 3 hours
  • Recommended trip duration: day trip
  • Recommended season: Spring/summer

 

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